“Just go for it and be yourself… that’s what Penguin Random House is looking for, someone who has conviction in their own beliefs and passions!”
Meet Aimée. She made a career change with The Scheme 2016 and joined our Editorial intake that September after previously working as a Forensic Psychologist and Family Therapist. She is now an Assistant Editor in our Penguin General division. Here are her thoughts on The Scheme….
Hello Aimée, tell us a bit about where you’re from, your background and what your role on The Scheme consisted of?
Hi everyone! I’m Aimée and I’m originally from Manchester (home of other great exports such as Oasis and Coronation Street) but I moved down to London in September 2016 to take up my place on The Scheme Editorial Programme.
Before working in publishing my background was actually in Forensic Psychology – the assessment and treatment of criminal behaviour. My experiences were mainly working with young offenders and their families, which was at times very challenging, but ultimately extremely rewarding too.
My role on The Scheme was a bit of a cross between Editorial Assistant and Assistant Editor. I read and logged submissions, ensured all the data on our systems was up to date for our titles (books), checked book covers before they printed, as well as copy-edited and proofread everything from manuscripts to Amazon descriptions. I also structurally edited manuscripts, wrote cover copy, and headed out to events with our authors.
You made it through The Scheme 2016 to become one of our final four. What made you apply in the first place?
I had started blogging as a hobby and as such I became more interested in social media and online publications, and began following industry profiles on Twitter.
I followed Penguin and saw the advert for The Scheme in my newsfeed. I thought their tag line ‘Can you bring a story to life?’ was pretty catchy, it really fired up all of my creative instincts and made me stop and think, ‘yeah, maybe I can bring a story to life actually!’ So I clicked through the link to find out more, and I guess the rest is history…
What was the best thing about The Scheme?
I think the variation and breadth of experiences The Scheme afforded me have been priceless. I split my time on The Scheme between Transworld and Michael Joseph, across both Fiction and Non-Fiction so was able to learn just how varied the publishing process is across genres. Through these placements I was also fortunate enough fortunate enough to have been able to work closely with most of the other teams aside from Editorial (Marketing, Publicity, Production, Biblio (type of publishing software) etc…). Everyone I worked with was really supportive and if you wanted to try something they let you give it a shot, which I think is a really great way to learn new skills.
On The Scheme, I not only wrote copy and edited manuscripts, but took on research projects looking at consumer feedback on our books, blogged from author Q and A sessions, as well as throwing myself head first into the very scary world that is ‘metadata’! (metadata is the keywords that make our books searchable online)
What was most challenging about The Scheme?
I think personally for me it was adapting to starting again from scratch. I’d come from working in a field where all my training and experience meant I was confident in my day-to-day role and knew exactly what I was doing. Then all of a sudden, I was struggling to keep up with what people even meant when they talked about ‘dump bins’, ‘prelims’, and ‘mechanicals’! (Don’t worry, that soon passes though!).
What did you learn from taking part in The Scheme?
I learnt to trust my instincts. When I first started here I stayed pretty silent during discussions on acquisitions in case I said something ‘wrong’. I wasn’t confident in my ability to recognise what would make a good book. But I soon learned that Editors are interested in everyone’s views, so speak up! It will get you noticed, and there’s really no right or wrong answer, everyone is entitled to their own view. The more I spoke out, the more I realised I did actually know what makes a great story…
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions or for opportunities. People can always say no, but you never know, they might well say yes! I got to meet my favourite ever author that way!
On to your role now…share with us a something you’ve worked on that you’re proud of – pictures too please!
I’m really proud of the editorial contributions I made to titles whilst on The Scheme. I named books, helped edit full manuscripts, briefed cover artwork and produced cover copy (blurbs). Seeing the finished books come in, especially with the copy I had penned on the cover, well, THAT was a real buzz!
I also looked after a couple of authors during my time on The Scheme, and one very kindly put me in the acknowledgements of his new title, which was a wonderful surprise! I then promptly took a picture and sent it to everyone I know very excitedly…
In my current role as an Assistant Editor I’m now fully editing books and managing the publication of projects from acquisition through to publication, with all the steps in between. I’ve also commissioned several books myself due out in 2019, which is really exciting! I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without having taken part in The Scheme.
What’s been your biggest surprise about working in publishing?
I think just how passionate everyone is. That might sound a bit of an odd thing to say, so I’ll explain! Everyone is here because they love reading, love books, and want to help great stories get out into the world. Subsequently, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside people who work hard every day, often going above and beyond to ensure this happens. For such a massive company I think this is a real achievement; it makes publishing a highly energetic and magical industry to be a part of.
What one piece of advice you wish you’d been given when you started looking for a career in publishing?
Become familiar with what you love. Most people in publishing keep up to date with industry news, who is publishing what and when, the most highly thought of reviewers, what is trending etc. Publishing is a fast-paced and ever-changing environment so if you don’t keep up with it you’ll find it harder to hit the ground running.
And finally, what advice would you give to someone deciding whether or not to apply for The Scheme ?
Just go for it and be yourself, don’t over-think your application, just be truthful, that’s what Penguin Random House is looking for, someone who has conviction in their own beliefs and passions!